A lot has been said about the creativity of Indie Games vs big budget games, and I think that being mostly hobbiests with a spattering of commercial indie devs, we need to really be taking advantage of that advantage we have.

One of the biggest advantages to creativity I think in RPG Maker, and one that is used regularly in the Indie environment as a whole is the concept of a Living Game. I’m making this definition up myself, but I’m taking the terminology from something that already exists: Living Documents.

The Quintessential Living Game

The Quintessential Living Game

Here is the thing, though it is more feasible than it used to be because of downloadable updates and such, but for the most part, once they ship the game, a big box commercial game (especially console games) are pretty much what they are going to be and can’t be changed. You have your internal playtesting, and your focus groups, but for the most part you have an educated guess on how the game as a whole will perform in the wild. Now, if you have GOOD QA it will be a pretty good educated guess. Don’t take this as a bash against QA guys, because I know a couple and they are really awesome people and know their job.

Living games on the other hand, get out in the wild and aren’t necessarily in their end state. A lot of indie games do this, and RPG Maker games almost always do this. You can release an early demo and get tons of feedback on what works, and what doesn’t. Even if you release the full game, you can always go back and touch up areas that people have issues with… or even completely rewrite them.

While we of course, probably won’t make a game with the same reach, just think about the whole debacle with the ending of Mass Effect 3 for instance, or the outsourced boss fights from Deux Ex: Human Revolution. Now, both of these got changed to varying levels later, but it wasn’t as easy as a living game. Mass Effect 3 had an ending DLC added, with varying levels of success among fans.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the other hand released an entire new version of the game with the director’s cut to fix their mistake. I rebought the game myself, its a brilliant game and the director’s cut fixed most of the issues, but in reality I’m still kind of peeved at the approach. That to get the game really how I think it should have been to begin with I had to completely rebuy it.

RPG Maker games don’t have to deal with this. They can be revised as often or as little as you want, you can even tweak something repeatedly and get feedback on it. Take advantage of the way your release medium and RMers expectations work. Incorporate the fans into the polishing of your work.

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You hear it all the time from modern gamers, “C’mon, its just clicking in menus, that isn’t REAL gameplay.”

And I'm pretty sure we can all admit that technology has improved a bit in the last 30 years or so.

And I’m pretty sure we can all admit that technology has improved a bit in the last 30 years or so.

The next argument you always hear is that turn based gameplay was a product of the technology. That had they had the ability to make every game real time that they would have.

So the Question becomes: Does Turn Based Gameplay still have a place in modern design? Or is it a relic of the past that should stay dead?

The Technology Argument

As much as some people might not want to admit it, one of reasons that a lot of early video games were turn based, was the technology. The technology exists to go beyond that now; real time is easily achievable. This reason really doesn’t apply very much anymore, though for an RPG Maker developer, I would say turn based is still a simpler frame to use. But what an RPG Maker Developer can do doesn’t justify Turn Based Games in the larger world, so if this as the only reason for turn based games to exist, I would say that no, they shouldn’t. But why should they exist?

Gameplay

I think for my next point, I’ll have to try and define a word, one that seems relatively simple, but is used in so many different contexts.

Yes, the Text Speed changes things in game, but its not exactly challenging anything, so it isn't GAMEPLAY.

Not Testing a Skill = Not Gameplay

Gameplay to me is about two major things. The first is that the player should be an active participant. If he’s just watching words go by, he’s passively encountering the game. He has to be doing something that changes how things happen on the screen. The second is that it has to challenge a skill. If he is just changing the volume in the menus, that isn’t exactly gameplay.

Most games challenge your reflexes and hand/eye coordination: Shooters, Platfomers, Action Adventure games, etc. They also challenge your ability to make QUICK decisions. The decisions may or may not be deep, but they challenge you to do them very fast.

Turn Based Games, with RPGs and Strategy games most often falling into Turn Based, challenge a different set of skills. There are two main skills they challenge, and most Turn Based Games will challenge one or both of them.

turnbased2The first is planning. Think about any of the turn based empire building games out there. You have to plan out your technology trees, you have to plan out your distribution of forces.

There are even some games that utilize this part Turn Based, while doing other parts in real time, such as Creative Assembly’s Total War series.

The second is more immediate analysis. Think of the middle of combat decisions you make. Most of analysis will play out in your head right here: If I do this, then he can do this, and then I can do this. You also sometimes have to decide when something is worth the risk or sacrifice or not. This is very much the skill that makes good chess players good.

turnbased3

I would say that, to me, this justifies Turn Based games on its own. Variety is the spice of life after all, and some people get more enjoyment out of different skills being challenged. Someone with poor reflexes, or who makes decisions slowly can still enjoy a turn based game, while someone who does his best thinking on the fly might prefer something faster paced. Neither of them are really wrong.

Where Turn Based Goes Wrong

The thing is, not every challenge to turn based game is actually false. There are a lot of turn based games that fail to have real gameplay due to not taking into consideration the gameplay aspect.

turnbased5

Think of any game where you can just hit attack over and over all the way to the end. There is no challenging of your skills to be had there. Now, that doesn’t mean the game is without skill at all. If you had to have done a good deal of planning and preparation to get yourself to that level of ease in the actual combats you still were challenged at some point.

The big thing is, to always remember: the Player should be an active participant, and the player should be utilizing a skill.

What do you think? Do you think that Turn Based games are still relevant? Should real time take over entirely? Tell us about it in the comments below!

BONUS CHALLENGE
The first person who can name every game from the images in this article, either in the comments here, or as a comment on the Facebook link will receive $10 USD in forum store credit.
WINNER: HESUFO

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During a recent conversation, I was confronted with a declaration of the “ideal” party size in games. More specifically, the person was talking about the ideal active party size, but you know, its very easy to pop that discussion out to talk about party size as a whole. What is a good size for the number of party members to choose from?

Ok, I think I've finished. OH WAIT, I HAVE AN IDEA FOR ONE MORE!

Ok, I think I’ve finished. OH WAIT, I HAVE AN IDEA FOR ONE MORE!

The Simple Answer

Well the simple answer is this: Well… it depends.

Which yes, I know, this is a cop out, but its actually the truth of most parts of your game. What is good will depend. So instead of trying to identify the correct numbers, what we should do instead is examine how trends in numbers affect the way you make the game.

In the complex answer, we’ll look at how story decisions and gameplay decisions affect the ideal party size. Remember that overall these are just suggestions. Things can actually work even outside of my suggestions, but always try to think: What am I doing to mitigate the issues here?

Story

When designing your game, you can go either direction, from story to gameplay, or gameplay to story. Just make sure they both inform the other. I’m going to talk about the story implications first, but it really has nothing to do with the importance. Inevitably, you will find yourself making choices based on a combination of both and how they interact with one another.

With your story, you generally have three choices based on how many of the characters are important to the story.

  1. Main Character
  2. Core Cast
  3. Ensemble

Main Character
PartySize2With a main character storyline, in general the story revolves around your player avatar, and the other characters exist to support his story.

This is used in a lot of games, and is very versatile in your party size. Because the background and development of the main character is really the only thing that matters that much, you can go with a small cast, or you can go with a giant cast of fairly static characters to support him.

Core Cast
PartySize3With a core cast storyline, your story revolves around a small group of important characters, and generally their storylines interplay with each other. Each one of them needs time to get character development, and you tend to want to have them around during most of the game. Games with Core cast storylines work best when your active party and your total party numbers are very near to the same number.

Unlike with the Main Character build, where extra characters can be added without really feeling odd, because you have a core cast that all has strong character lines, adding a static character feels out of place.

Ensemble
PartySize4Ensemble games tend to have a lot of different characters with a bit of character development each. Their arcs may or may not be tied directly together, which differentiates a bit from the Core Cast type games. Generally, an ensemble game will have a medium sized cast. You don’t want to go with so many characters that you can’t give each their own character arc, and if you go with too few, it starts to just feel like a Core Cast game without any interaction between the arcs.

As I said earlier, you CAN play with this a bit, and there really are a lot of other types if you get nitpicky about it. These are just general guidelines, not set in stone laws. But always keep in mind, if I have this kind of story, and I’m going with a suggested cast size that isn’t suggested, what am I doing differently that makes it work?

Gameplay

With gameplay, I’m mostly going to stick to the concept of a standard JRPG. The reason for this is that the assumptions drastically change in other styles, such as Action RPGs, which generally support all the way down to just one playable character, and Strategy RPGs that can at times support even an active party in the double digits.

In my opinion, the main gameplay concern that you should have with a large cast of characters is customization. As I talked about before, there are different steps you can take to customize characters, but I didn’t talk about what I’ll talk about here: customizing your party.

The main thing that I think is important is to have the game feel unique for different players and playthroughs depending on how the team is built.

There is a general axis on which you can create this customization. I’ll talk about each extreme, but remember, it is a spectrum, not a binary choice.

Lots of Characters, Low Customization
PartySize5On one end of the spectrum, you can have tons and tons of characters, but very few customization options for each character.

WIth this, the players party customization is created by picking WHICH characters to use. Characters can also be pretty similar in their role and abilitiies, as long as there is at least some differentiation between the two. Because each character doesn’t have a lot of options for customization, there isn’t a chance that the two characters will start to behave identically.

Few Characters, Lots of Customization
PartySize6On the other end, we have very few characters, usually the same as the active party size, but each individual character can be customized strongly.

With this, instead of finding the right party composition for party customization, the player turns each individual character into the right cog for their machine.

And Everything In Between
You can mix it between the two. Finding the right balance for your game, for the storyline you are trying to create, is important.

Always, always remember that your gameplay and your story should work together. Don’t make a game with tons and tons of characters, but you only focus on the core cast for instance. Unless you can make it work! But always know why it works. Have a reason. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

How many playable characters are in your game? How does it reflect the story? How does it impact the gameplay decisions you make? Join the conversation below!

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One thing I’ve noticed a lot of RPG fans enjoy (and I myself enjoy a lot) is character customization. Allowing players to grow their characters in the way they choose allows them to make their own path and strategies, rather than feeling as though its dictated by the game. But with this customization lies a potential problem. If you let each character learn almost anything, they all start to behave the same mechanically!

Even with customization, your characters should probably feel different. So today, I’m going to explore 2 games that use customization, while retaining strong character uniqueness, to give you some inspiration on how to approach doing the same.

Game 1: Final Fantasy VI
Method: Powerful Unique Skillsets

Edgar shows off one of his tools, while Locke prepares to steal something.

Edgar shows off one of his tools, while Locke prepares to steal something.

Final Fantasy VI had a pretty strong customization system with Espers. Each Esper allowed you to master different spells and also affected your stat growth. This let you change your characters enough that they could all do a bit of everything, though strong stat bases could kept certain things more viable than others.

What Final Fantasy VI did right which kept the characters really unique was supply each character with a unique skillset that differentiates them from everyone else. There are several keys to why this worked:

  • Each Skillset played differently. Sabin’s Blitz worked differently than Cyan’s Sword Tech worked differently than Gau’s Rages.
  • Skillsets that didn’t have a unique gameplay mechanic did something that couldn’t be repliicated, such as Locke’s Steal skill.
  • The Skillsets are powerful enough to be regularly used, making sure that they don’t become a cosmetic, but ultimately useless difference between characters.

Because of the Unique skillsets, I would never feel like the party was the same with Locke, Celeste, and Terra as it was with Sabin, Edgar, and Cyan, no matter how I used Espers to level them up.

Game 2: Dragon Quest VIII
Method: Each Character Gets Different Customization Options

Jessica uses one of her Whip skills.

Jessica uses one of her Whip skills.

Dragon Quest VIII introduced a skill system to the Dragon Quest series. Each character gets skill points as they level, and you can allocate them however you want to give them more special abilities.

This seems pretty par for the course for basic customization, but what makes the characters unique is that the set of skills they can put points into is different for each character. Now there is some overlap, for instance each character has the Fisticuffs skill, Angelo shares swords with the Hero and staffs with Jessica, but each character has a unique nonweapon skill, and each of them have at least 1 unique weapon skill.

On top of this, Dragon Quest VIII retains fixed stat growth and spells based on levels, keeping the same type of uniqueness of character that older games in the series had. The skill points really allow characters to SPECIALIZE rather than being their entire character. While a sword Angelo and a bow Angelo might play differently, they still have more in common than sword Hero has with sword Angelo due to their stats and spells derived from their base class.

Conclusion

To keep classes unique, customization either has to add on to what they have by default, such as in Dragon Quest VIII, or you have to add on something that adds on top of customization such as in Final Fantasy VI. The customization section should almost never be where the majority of a character comes from, unless that customization system is segregated with each character to keep the characters from feeling samey.

Do you have any other methods of keeping characters from becoming bland mechanically? Any other games that you think handle customization in a good way that retains character uniqueness? Join us in the comments section below!

 

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This is going to be a short post, but hopefully an important one. I’m sure there are a good many of you in our audience who sat around every day in high school history wondering: “Man… why do I got to learn all this stuff, its just a bunch of boring dates and facts about things that happened hundreds of years ago!”

Of course, you might have been sort of right, depending on the quality of your history teacher (though its not so much fact as best guess consensus, but we’ll let that one slide). But here is the thing: History is a goldmine for storytelling.

Not just to set something in an actual historical setting, but you can pull historical cause and effect straight into your own settings. Think about the parallels between say, the War of the Roses and Final Fantasy Tactics (or A Song of Ice and Fire if you are a fan of that).

Change these to Lions and boom, its Final Fantasy Tactics

Change these to Lions and boom, its Final Fantasy Tactics

History is an endless supply of situations to pull from, and they are all at your fingertips, especially with access to the internet (which I assume you have, and if you don’t… HOW ARE YOU READING THIS!?). We have tons of resources, from Wikipedia to a certain internet celebrity’s youtube series on World and US History (Seriously, if you haven’t watched John Green’s Crash Course History serieses, you should, they are truly amusing and enlightening).

I mean, I can just grab a random video from his and use it to think of a game concept:

Natives dealing with a foe with technologically superior weapons while suffering from mass disease (Conquistadors)

Reeling from a previous war, a nation establishes new allies, while breaking old in an attempt to regain land they had lost, igniting the rivalry between other nations, and throwing nearly the entire world into global combat (The Seven Years’ War).

With the royalty deposed, a new regime takes over a nation, imposing bloody deaths to any suspected of not following their banner (The French Revolution).

Have you been inspired by anything from history? One of the wars, or maybe the black death! Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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So last Friday, I was able to get our art diretor Lunarea (pronounced: Loo-nah-ray-ah, which is something I learned during the chat) into a live chat with the fans to answer any questions people could think of for her! You can download the entire log here, or read below to catch some of the highlights (including one question I got to answer as well):

Redweaver_420: Have you guys considered making things to flesh out the RTP, like emo sets or face pics for all the pallete-swapped people 5&6 etc.?

Lunarea: We strive to give a lot of content that can be used with the RTP, but we also try not to repeat too much of what the community’s already done. There’s a lot of RTP add-ons like the emotion facesets or recolors, so we try to focus on giving you other kinds of original content. Archeia has a personal blog that has a ton of portraits and faces with emotions that’s based on the RTP, too.

Koneko: What do you use to do your artwork in and how long does making something take from idea to imported for you?

Lunarea: I do all of my work in Photoshop CS6 and the packs take quite a long time. The Zombie pack (which is my latest pack) took a little over 500 hours of work. But the amount of work it takes really depends on the content, the style and the theme. It’s never a quick process, though.

HypnoNate: Which resource pack, if you had to choose one, is your favourite?

Lunarea: That’s a tough question! If it’s just my own packs, Arabian Nights is my favorite. If it’s all packs … I think I would probably go with the DS pack. It’s very cute.

Indie Game Judge: So what future themes are you looking into making packs for?

Lunarea: We’ve got quite a few packs in progress at the moment: farm/sim modern, wild west, dungeons, royal/noble, detective/noir, dark fantasy, and a few that have to stay a secret a bit longer.

Redweaver_420: Outside of RPG Maker games…what are your top three “desert island” games?  Feel free to give us your answer, too, Nick!

Lunarea: Do MMO’s count? I pick WoW, Torchlight and Starcraft 2.

Nick Palmer: Desert Island… Nier, even though it doesn’t have the replayability I think its one of the best games ever made. Dragon Quest IX (I can play this forever), and uh… Some other time sink game. Maybe one of the GTAs, haven’t played 5 yet but I hear it can be played forever.

WandererGalv(NOFAPcrew): oh… how long does making new auto-tiles take for you…? =\  seems pretty tedious indeed…

Lunarea: Depending on the detail, most of the auto-tiles take at least an hour. I’ve had some auto-tiles take several hours, with the longest one being a water tile that took 5 hours. Water is especially difficult because it’s supposed to animate fluidly, but you only still get 3 frames and it’s a big challenge to make fluidity happen in 3 frames.

GaryCXJk: Seriously, I always wonder how graphic makers could keep their sanity. (on the subject of autotiles).

Lunarea: With lots of fellow artist support and a kind word here and there from people using the art.

*After money was mentioned in relation to the question*: Lunarea: Money mostly makes it possible to keep working on content without having to get a second (or 3rd) job. It’s a great bonus, but not really the reason most of us are making art.

End Q&A

We both had a ton of fun doing this for you guys, and hopefully if you wanted to join in you made it. We plan to do something else like this in the future, but we want to hear from you the fans first! Who do you want to see put in the Live Q&A box? Another one of our employees, one of the people who have made resource packs for us? Or maybe even a prominent game maker from the community! Who should I be targeting to line up for the next Q&A. You tell us in the comments section below.

 

 

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Someone, though it is argued exactly who, once said, that stealing from one person is plagiarism, while stealing from many is research, and though we should strive to do better than steal, it is true that as designers, we are indeed dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants.

Just as Sakaguchi stood on the shoulders of Horii, or Horii stood on the shoulders of Greenberg and Woodhead, or they in turn stood on the shoulders of Arneson and Gygax, we too stand atop a plethora of designers who came before us.

For those of you following along at home (and yes, I know there are tons of intermediate steps and other inspirations)

For those of you following along at home (and yes, I know there are tons of intermediate steps and other inspirations)

So its easy to see something in a game and immediately think “Wow, I want to do that!” But where do we cross the line from paying our respects to their brilliance, to outright theft of their ideas.

And with that drawn out intro, I lead you into the topic of this article: Taking inspiration from a mechanic in a game, but making it something of your own, rather than just a pale copy.

Step 1: Knowing Why?

The first thing you should be aware of is WHY. Why are you taking a mechanic from another game. And try not to answer with “because that is the way its done.”

Let’s say that I really really love the Materia system from Final Fantasy VII and want to use it in my upcoming game: The Village of Cakes.

Giants2

So now the question: Why? Let’s take a look at the mechanic and I’ll list what I liked about it:

  • Strong Customization
  • No “Messing Up” with bad builds
  • Can craft unique skillsets for characters
  • Can alter spells and abilities with modifiers

With this knowledge in hand, we know what to try to replicate at when we design our own system.

Step 2: Identifying What You DIDN’T Like

Next, try to think about what parts of the mechanic you didn’t like. I’ll do a list again for the Materia system:

  • Every character could feel “samey”, as all Materia could be used on any character
  • Link system required tons of slots to pull off mediocre combos with regular spells
  • Summon Materia tended to give too much “bang for your buck”, even with limited castings per combat

Now that we know what we DIDN’T like, we know what to try to avoid when making the mechanic our own.

Step 3: Rebuilding

So let’s take the mechanic, and rebuild it, keep the parts we like, but toss the parts we don’t. In the end, the mechanic will still probably resemble the mechanic that inspired it, but it won’t be identical.

So we start with the base system. Equipping cool magic stones to weapons and armor to give us spells and abilities. But first, let’s see if we can deal with some of the problems we had. What if certain magic stones took up more than one slot? This would solve the problem of Summon Materia and the bang for the buck problem.

But let’s take it further! What if different stones took up different amounts of slots depending on WHICH character was equipping it. Maybe the healer type can equip healing magic for less, your strong man can equip big physical swipes for less. You can still pop a weak healing spell on your big guy for an emergency, so it keeps a lot of the customization, but the characters have more individuality.

And now that we have multiple slots for one piece, we’ll need to change from links of 2 slots, to clusters of slots. Now a weak spell can have tons of modifying pieces attached to it, and as a side benefit strong spells can have LESS. So what is better, that HP/MP absorbing doublecasted Fireball, or that MP absorbing Raging Inferno!?

Step 4: Reskinning

Now that you’ve rebuilt the mechanics, you need to reskin them. Keeping the same skin can work sometimes, but really, with things as specific as Materia for instance, it feels very very derivative. So think about how you can make it fit into your world aesthetically that will also change how the mechanic is viewed by the player. The Skin is important for feel.

With my Materia inspired system, I think I’ll go with Runes. I’ve always thought Runic magic was a cool idea, and the idea of mystic runes being scrawled on the weapons and armor of the heroes to be called forth to execute special moves and attacks is a great visual.

Giants3

When reskinning, keep your game world in mind. Think about how the mechanic will integrate with the story you are telling. Why does X mechanic work in Y way?

Conclusion

So as you can see, even though when I say that it was inspired by the Materia system its obvious, would you really see scrawling runes on your equipment with variable size based on character with possible modifiers based on the area available for scrawling and think: Man what a ripoff. Would you have even recognized it had I not said where the idea came from?

Don’t rip things off. Examine, adapt, create, and make it your own. Your mechanic should play and feel different. And never, ever forget the giants whose shoulders you are standing on.

Have a mechanic that is inspired from another game? Want to see if people can identify where its from just from a description? Just want to tell us your thoughts on design inspiration? Join us in the comments section below.

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STBanner

Plot and Outline

By: Maddie (aka Paladin-Cleric of Awesome)

Because I don't really need an excuse to post a picture of Sean Bean in possibly his best ever role, but it never hurts.

Because I don’t really need an excuse to post a picture of Sean Bean in possibly his best ever role, but it never hurts.

Basic Plot

Now I get to do one of my favourite things, Role Play!

No, I haven’t gone any madder than I was before, it’s just that sometimes, when I’m playing outside of my usual sandbox, I need to move outside of my own headspace to make something like this work.

Bearing in mind that the Heroes Chronicles games are RPG Military Campaigns, and I am more of a meandering storyteller, focusing on my characters and turning a simple story into an Epic tale (or so I like to believe). So to be able to truly get myself in the frame of mind of writing a Campaign styled game plot, I need to get myself into a military headspace (hence the lovely picture above-I told you I had an excuse).

So, with this firmly in mind, I decided that it would be best to stick with a very simple story.
“Lenath, the displaced young king of Lestar, escapes from prison in order to defeat the Warlord who stole his throne had subjugated his people.”

There we go, I have my basic plot. So what do I do now?

This requires some thought… and a lot of hot chocolate.

And marshmallows! Man how I love those little marshmallows!

And marshmallows! Man how I love those little marshmallows!

STBulletObjectives

Going back to the Inspiration for all of this (and replaying some of the levels-I kid you not, this never gets old, it’s so dang addicting!); and making some notes I see that story wise, all the maps have a main objective, not unlike a regular RPG game, with the occasional secondary objective thrown in there.

Simple Objectives like “Defeat the Blue team” or “Find the Vial of Dragons Blood” or “Free the Dragon Mothers”. There’s nothing overly complex in them, and the little bits of story you get as you play are there to give you a bit of a nudge. ie. When you’ve spent a month game time recruiting more troops for your army instead of searching for those Dragon Mothers a little dialogue will pop up with “A spy in the enemy lands comes with word that the Dragon mothers are being held in the hidden valley to the South!”.

So, taking what I’ve learned from the Heroes Chronicles Game I look again at my basic Plot.

Overall Objective
Help Lenath defeat the Warlord who stole his throne and subjugated his people and had him thrown in prison.

Now the question is, how do I get Lenath from the prison and to the Warlord for that final confrontation?

“That’s easy!” you say, “That’s typical RPG stuff, send him on a few missions to fight monsters to level up, let him wander round some towns and collect some companions to help him on his way.”

Ok… so you may have a point. But I have my Military Campaign Hat on, so we’re going to do this a slightly different way. (I did say this already didn’t I? That this wasn’t a typical RPG I was making?

What? He's holding a hat isn't he? *grumble* Fine... but at least I'm being consistent.

What? He’s holding a hat isn’t he? *grumble* Fine… but at least I’m being consistent.

In this game we don’t have random citizens of Town A who will inform us of some quest to kill some goblin riders in the cave near town. We aren’t immersing ourselves in a dialogue focused narrative. We have a bigger plan in mind, a more grand scale plan. We aren’t some fifteen year old child saving the world against impossible odds, accompanied by equally as young companions.

We are simply a young man with one thing in mind. Take back what is his (and free the land and be sort of awesome and stuff). So with this in mind what do I need to do next?

Firstly; What are my military objectives? How do I lead an army to liberate the lands the Warlord has stolen? How do I gather this army? Where can I go? What can I do?

My Main Objectives are:

ST2-4Not very exciting by themselves, and hardly the stuff that will keep people playing the game interested, so I’m going to have to be a tad more specific. So taking each Objective I expand it further.

ST2-5And there we have it, a simple and easy plot (that only took me nearly a week to come up with). Of course, it requires some serious fleshing out, but for now I’m happy enough. More of the story will come out when I focus on the maps and the characters.

STBullet

Objectives from the Clash of the Dragon game... I want mine to look as awesome!... Mine will look as Awesome!

Objectives from the Clash of the Dragon game… I want mine to look as awesome!… Mine will look as Awesome!

So tell me, how do you go about planning your own RPG plot? Are you the kind to dive straight in there and just write whatever strikes your fancy? Do you meticulously plan out every detail before starting anything else? Share your secrets.

Next time on Spiders Thread I get to play with: Game Mechanics

Offered for your amusement by; Maddie aka Paladin Cleric of Awesome:- novelist (in spirit), game developer (in progress) and owner of one too many cats (Though as my family tells it, three too many).

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Last week, we launched a brand new feature on our website: Deal of the Week.

Our first amazing bundle features Sinister Hollows music pack and Mythos horror graphic pack. Both packs are eerie and spooky in atmosphere, fitting perfectly in that intense horror game. However, they’re also packs with great variety- offering pieces that can be used in more classic fantasy games.

To celebrate the launch of Deal of the Week, we are hosting a giveaway. Buying the deal-of-the-week during this launch week will automatically give you a BIG chance to win any RPG Maker/IGM or any other resource pack of your choice.

More ways to qualify for free packs are by liking and commenting in our announcement thread, sharing on Facebook or Twitter, or by leaving us a blog comment.

Which two products should be the next deal of the week?

Sound off bellow.

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FallFestival-Banner_zps6d755a3b

Hi everybody! Time to finally announce the winners of the Fall Festival Contest.

First, let me say that there were a good many entries, and thank you for your patience in me finishing them all for judging. Some were excellent, some were less so, but all showed potential, especially with eventing logic. Before I start, I would like people to know that yes, I will be talking about the negatives in games. If I placed your game on this list, I DO think there are more positives than negatives, even if I spend more time discussing what I think was wrong with a game than right.

We’ll start with Third Place and work our way down from there, but first, let’s talk about our…

Honorable Mention – Quincy and Amber: Quest to Autumn by thatbennyguy

QAQA

This game really could have been the winner. Quincy and Amber is a two player puzzle game, which was really neat to see done in RPG Maker. Technically you could play it with one person, and it even told you so, but I opted to get my wife to come play it with me to get a better idea of what I think was the intention of the design.

One player controls Quincy using the arrow keys, and a second controls Amber with the WASD keys. The basic idea is simple, as shown above. Find the way to step on the buttons to lower the appropriate obstacles back and forth between the two characters so that they both can get to the exit. Playing it two player is really the way to go, we spent a lot of time interacting and doing “hey you go there, I’ll go there, etc.”

Its honestly really well done mechanically. This is actually the only game that I bothered opening up to check out the eventing, which was very well done and streamlined.

The only real issue with this game, was unfortunately a sin I couldn’t forgive it for: It really didn’t hook up well into the theme of the contest. Yes, they are traveling to the “Fall Festival” but it was really nothing more than a vague idea (I’m not sure it was an actual Festival), and at the end you don’t even get to see it, just a black screen as the players talk. The ending does state that he will be doing a longer version with more plot and all, and I do look forward to seeing it.

Now on to our…

Third Place Winner: Falling for Autumn by Deveroux

FallingForAutumn

Falling for Autumn is mostly done in the visual novel style. It tells the story of a lawyer returning to his rural hometown to visit his mother during the annual Fall Festival. Apparently, he grew up there wanting to escape to the big city, but while visiting, he meets a girl (Autumn) who reminds him of all the things that were great about his hometown that he had ignored in his desire to escape it.

She is pushy and a bit “crazy” and he is of course the more sensible, hardworking type, it feels very basic, but its a story that works. The visual novel gameplay doesn’t offer as much choice as it could have, really it only offers a “fall for autumn” or “meh” paths, but I understand the time constraints of making a game in a few weeks. There was a single bit of gameplay outside of that, with trying to run a maze and grab items with your vision obscured. It was really really tight time wise and I had to try it multiple times.

My only real complaints are the choice wasn’t broad enough for a Visual Novel, we didn’t get enough gameplay to make it a different type of game, and that things seemed to move really fast storywise*. But overall, it still performed well. The maps were nice, the music was done well, and the story, even cliched, was written competently.

*This last one I understand being an issue of time constraints, but I think this game could be really good rather than “good for a game made in a couple of weeks” if given some polish.

Second Place Winner: Colette’s Fall Festival by Markal Games

Colettes

In this game, we play as Colette, a young girl with a lot of attitude who visits the Fall Festival with her brother. She wants to go to the Haunted House, but gets caught up in trying to win the costume contest. There are quite a few minigames, including hunting for costume patterns and pieces, and having different costumes will unlock different things you can do. Then at the end, you are scored on how you did, and maybe win some tickets to the Haunted House you REALLY wanted to go to.

Sounds easy, right? But there is a catch: You only have 30 minutes to do all this in. I only completely a couple of costumes myself, but I had a few pieces and the patterns to a couple more. The concept and gameplay in this one were great.

There were some negatives, the maps weren’t the best I’ve seen, with lots of wide open spaces, but they were functional. When I first started, I thought the Bobbing for Apples and the shooting game were going to be really similar, but despite similar eventing, they felt different enough.

Overall, I thought this game was just fun, with a good theme and concept. I would have actually sat down and played it again to try to find more of the costume stuff, but I needed to move on the next entry for judging. Tightening up the mapping is the only real thing I would say this game needed, and perhaps a few more minigames. As a side note, the jumping in leaves being a substitute for treasure chests idea was really good.

First Place Winner: Cornucopia Cavern by Dog & Pony

Cornucopia

In this game you take on the role of Ernie, son of a prominent ramen chef, and your father has fallen ill right before the Fall Festival!

With no money, and no ramen chef, Ernie must travel into Cornucopia Caverns to gather ingredients so that he can do his best to to fill in for his father at the Festival. First of all, the story is really cute. I enjoyed playing as Ernie, who is a really humble child who just wants to help out in any way he can.

Second: The gameplay is really fun. Most of the game is dexterity dodging, with a few logic puzzles sprinkled in for flavor, and some parts of it are HARD. I’m really glad for the very very frequent checkpoints, otherwise I might not have even finished this one. Even being a dexterity game primarily, if you don’t think through the paths you are going to use, you are probably not going to make it.

The one major complaint I would have in the gameplay is a later puzzle where you have to create the perfect broth for a troll to let you through a locked door. You do this by picking up a cup, filling it with up with 1-9 of 4 different ingredients and then letting him taste it. He will give you a clue on 1 of the 4 ingredients at random (too much, too little, just right) and then dump it out and make you do it again until you get it right.

The problem is: Even if you have gotten one right, it will continue to randomly pick that clue to tell you. So after I figured out two of them, I would get REALLY tired of him telling me that one of those two were just right and then dumping it without giving more information. My suggestion would have been to have it branch to say which ones were right and then give at LEAST one clue about one that was wrong.

Still a minor nitpick overall to a great game.

The only REAL regret I had about this one, was that it didn’t slowly teach you information you needed throughout your travels to get ingredients, then present you with a cooking minigame at the end. I even memorized the broth recipe just in case! I think it would have been a great little memory puzzle at the end if he had mentioned details about how to cook each part as he found them and you had to remember the information at the end to make the perfect ramen for the Festival.

Even with that regret, this game was really well done and I had a lot of fun playing it.

End Notes

Thank you everyone for competing in this competition. I encourage you all to put your games up on our forums for everyone to play. It was a joy to play through them all, and hopefully everyone enjoyed making their games. If you have won a prize, PM my account (Touchfuzzy) on our forums (if you do not have a forum account, please make one) and if there was a choice on your prize, please state what you would like that choice to be.

Thank you for your patience with these announcements. Congratulations to all the winners, and congratulations to everyone who managed to finish a game for the competition.

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